Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets

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mufunyo
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Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets

Post by mufunyo »

So my Blast City's marquee light flickers quite a bit at 50Hz and I was wondering how straightforward it could be to replace the ballast and/or TL tube with a more modern offering that doesn't flicker as much? Would I need to source something from Japan/US because 110v or are the kinds of kit you buy in Europe full range these days?

If anyone has any ideas I'm interested to hear them, I'll also append this thread with anything I come up with in my research.
Last edited by mufunyo on February 8th, 2017, 1:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Rossyra
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by Rossyra »

LED strip instead?
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by Flinnster »

Yep that's what I was going to suggest. Seem some nice replacements to woody cab marquees where LED strip was wrapped round a bit of dowling rod, looked identical effect from outside.
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nem
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by nem »

If you're a DIY-er, LED strip will work great. Before doing one I also had thought of dowel rods and similar, however, then I saw a pic where someone had just put the LED strip on the old fluorescent tube. Works a treat!
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by LegoYoda »

I used the one outlined here: https://retrogamingstuff.wordpress.com/ ... -1e-fg-1e/ in my Blast and it doesn't flicker at all with a new balast / starter / glowlamp. It sucked beforehand and this fixed it. You can have flicker free gaming and keep it original.
Alec
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Owning a Blast City: Fixing and Repairing -http://retrogamingstuff.wordpress.com/
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by copados33 »

No no, you don't need to replace the light bulb for leds...there are 2 types of ballast, old ones were coil based, newer ones are electronic, hence these don't flicker and it doesn't require a starter, you'll have to do a small rewiring in the lighting bulb circuit, but it should be a quite straightforward modification, cheap, plus you keep your cab original.
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

If replacing the starter fixed your issue then what you saw before wasn't 50Hz flicker but probably something much worse that indicated a failing starter. As copados33 said conventional ballasts run at mains frequency and changing the starter has no effect on how the ballast works.

I went to a few DIY stores and learned that DIY stores don't stock ballasts at all, only starters and complete fixtures, and all the fixtures I saw were either rated at 230V or 220-240V. I've shopped around a bit online for electronic ballasts but they're also 220-240V so I think I'll have to import from the US. Physically it looks like electronic ballasts are quite a bit bigger than conventional ones so I can't just plop it in as a replacement. However the fixture inside the Blast City looks fairly standard with evenly spaced screw holes so I can probably fit a bigger ballast by taking out the existing ballast and starter holders and just mounting straight to the bar/bracket, keeping things more or less original.
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

Researched some more. Amazon.com is filled with cheap electronic ballasts rated for 120V +/- 10% (so 110V should be fine, 100V I'm not sure). However, they're all for F32T8 tubes, and the tube in my Blast is an F18T8. It's hard to find information on mismatching ballasts, but I did find a German page on archive.org that says what will happen with a higher wattage ballast on a lower wattage tube:
Müssen die Leistung von EVG und Röhre genau gleich sein?

So basically the ballast will "overdrive" the tube leading to a shorter life, bad idea. I did find a few F18T9 ballasts which are for a circular tube with a G10q quad-pin (rather than G13 dual-pin) socket, so I'm not sure if it's possible to connect a ballast like that to the Blast's G13 socket normally.
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by Asure »

I used a T8 tube like this in my Naomi after a bit of rewiring. The Naomi is running at 230VAC so it was a no-brainer. Got rid of the ballast and started etc.

http://www.ledlampendirect.nl/led-tl-ec ... 3000k.html

I cannot say for sure if this tube runs on 100-110 AC as well, i'm at work atm, but the box must still be around somewhere once i get home to check it :)
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

Asure wrote:I used a T8 tube like this in my Naomi after a bit of rewiring. The Naomi is running at 230VAC so it was a no-brainer. Got rid of the ballast and started etc.

http://www.ledlampendirect.nl/led-tl-ec ... 3000k.html

I cannot say for sure if this tube runs on 100-110 AC as well, i'm at work atm, but the box must still be around somewhere once i get home to check it :)
You raise a good point. If I'm replacing the ballast/starter (so basically rewiring the whole light fixture) anyway, and I might end up having to replace the F18T8 tube with an F32T8 tube because I can't find a suitable ballast, why bother at all and not just get rid of the ballast/starter (or bypass them and leave them for a possible future owner to restore to original state if desired) and just get a G13-compatible LED tube. As the rabbit hole deepens I get the feeling there's light at the end of the tunnel. :awe:
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

So every LED tube I've been able to find so far in the Netherlands has been 220-240v. I did find one that was 100-240v but I couldn't find a (web) store to buy it. Some more research brought me to the North American Suzo/Happ site:
LED Light tube with adjustable rotating ends, 24" cool white

But there's a $100 minimum order and I can't see shipping costs without placing an order. My experience with company-to-company suppliers like these is that they'll use some expensive carrier like UPS or FedEx and you'll pay through the nose twice, once for shipping and then again for customs processing. A group buy could be a thing if more people are interested but $32 is already a lot (the 220-240v ones I found were between €7 and €15), so I'd rather keep looking.
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by glstar »

mufunyo wrote:So every LED tube I've been able to find so far in the Netherlands has been 220-240v. I did find one that was 100-240v but I couldn't find a (web) store to buy it. Some more research brought me to the North American Suzo/Happ site:
LED Light tube with adjustable rotating ends, 24" cool white

But there's a $100 minimum order and I can't see shipping costs without placing an order. My experience with company-to-company suppliers like these is that they'll use some expensive carrier like UPS or FedEx and you'll pay through the nose twice, once for shipping and then again for customs processing. A group buy could be a thing if more people are interested but $32 is already a lot (the 220-240v ones I found were between €7 and €15), so I'd rather keep looking.
You can try with those
http://www.ebay.it/itm/271848315456
This is 45cm for an upright cab.....
I plan to get it for my track & field....
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Re: Flicker-free ballast for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

glstar wrote:You can try with those
http://www.ebay.it/itm/271848315456
This is 45cm for an upright cab.....
I plan to get it for my track & field....
eBay! Of course, why didn't I think of that before. Found a perfect match: http://www.ebay.com/itm/262648297350

Marque:Auralum
Type : T8
LED Type: SMD 2835
RoHs,TUV CE certificat
Température de couleur: 5500-6500K
Émission de la couleur: Blanc Froid
Angle de visualisation: 330 degrés
Tension d'entrée: AC100-240V
Température pour un bon fonctionnement: -20 à +40 degrés
Ra>80
60cm 9W 48 LEDs 990 Lumen

MOQ is 2 units, but I only need one. If anyone wants to get in on a group buy, let me know. :awe:
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by nem »

The starter included in those are the two pronged ones. Blast one is a screw in.
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

nem wrote:The starter included in those are the two pronged ones. Blast one is a screw in.
They're just dummy starters, you can get them anywhere for like €2 a piece. Also I'm pretty sure you get additional power savings by bypassing the ballast/starter entirely.
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by Asure »

'Item does not ship'..?
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nem
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by nem »

mufunyo wrote:
nem wrote:The starter included in those are the two pronged ones. Blast one is a screw in.
They're just dummy starters, you can get them anywhere for like €2 a piece. Also I'm pretty sure you get additional power savings by bypassing the ballast/starter entirely.
If you're keeping the ballast, you still need the dummy starter, don't you?
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

nem wrote:If you're keeping the ballast, you still need the dummy starter, don't you?
If you want to keep all the wiring original, yes. I'm planning to keep the ballast and original starter, but just bypass the wires around them and connect them straight to the G13 socket.
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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

Since nobody seemed interested in a group buy I just bought the minimum order of 2 LED tubes, and test fitted one. It fits, so that's nice. One of the bundled "LED starters" was cracked so I could see what it's made of. It's nothing more than a 14A 250V fuse wired to the two poles of the starter plug.

I did some digging and the Japanese starter socket is a regular E17 bulb socket. I could only find a discontinued wholesale listing for Japanese/E17 "LED starters" on Alibaba. I haven't looked on Japanese sites yet. It's a pity it's not E14, as cheap E14 LED bulbs are easy to find here in discount stores for a few euro, and I could remove the LED circuit and solder in a fuse instead. One option I'm considering is getting an E17 to MR16 socket converter, and it would be trivial to solder a fuse to that:

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Re: Flicker-free marquee for Sega cabinets?

Post by mufunyo »

Got the socket adapter in the mail today, it had a redirect sticker on it so I suppose it was incorrectly delivered earlier which explains why it took so long to get here. Snipped off the legs of the fuse and bent them inward a bit and voila-- perfect fit and the fuse stays put, no need to solder it down even.

On the left the original fluo starter, middle my modded "Japanese" E17 LED starter, and on the right the original LED starter as supplied with the LED tube kit:

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I'll have to at least partially assemble my cab before I can test it though.
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